Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz
oing seven years without a release will do wonders of the negative type to your audience. Chris Knight finally put out new music - "Almost Daylight" - last month and is back out on the road.
But somehow the Kentucky native, who didn't release his first album until he was 37 (he's now 59), managed to maintain an audience. With about 175 fans in the house, Knight may bring a plethora of quality songs, but one thing he didn't bring was a lot of good cheer.
That's because the characters in Knight's songs have a lot of problems - drinking, drugs, bad relationships, bad weather. The usual stuff, but with his plain spoken vocals, life isn't very good.
The closing song (by a shouted out request) - "North Dakota" - was about a girlfriend, who goes out in terrible weather and isn't found until the rain washes away the snow. Here and throughout the night, Knight offered himself up as the kind of country writer in very short supply these days - writers of story songs. Very sad story songs for the most part.
Which is a different sentiment than whether they deserve an audience. They do, and Knight brought the songs alive unadorned.
Perhaps a bit too much so. Knight has been touring with a guitarist, but for reasons unknown, said guitarist was not in the house. One suspects that Knight would have benefitted from the addition because a guitarist presumably would have fleshed out the songs a bit more.
As a result, Knight's songs did not cut across a wide variety.
Curiously, Knight forgot the words at one point to perhaps his biggest song, "It Ain't Easy Being Me." But with help from a fan in the front row, Knight was back on track with the song title pretty much demonstrating the hard luck characters that inhabit Knight's songs.
Surprisingly, Knight only played four of the 11 songs on "Almost Daylight" with the lead-off track "I'm William Callahan," a standout during the night. Too bad he didn't dig into the new songs more because they more than stood up to what he did play.
Knight picked up the sound a few notches nearing the end of the generous 110-minute show, finally mixing up the sonics.
But for Knight, it all comes down to the song. Years later, life is not pretty in your typical Chris Knight song, but there's no reason to have it any other way.